Locarno to Stanley Park Paddle


This isn’t really a new paddle, since I’ve done the whole route in sections before. What made it blog-worthy is the length (nearly 17km), which is a new record for an impromptu day paddle for me.

These days, I’m on daycare pickup and drop off duties, so my time window for a paddle is restricted between the hours of 10:30am to 4:00pm. Being out of shape after the winter, and paddling with a wetsuit, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it all the way from Locarno to Stanley Park, and complete a nearly 20km out-and-back paddle.

I launched from Locarno Beach at 10:45am, and the plan was to paddle west until 12:30pm (a conservative 1 hour 45 min outbound trip), stop however far I get to for a 30-45 min lunch break, which should give me 2-3 hours to return in time for daycare pickup.

A quick note on my gears. Since it’s an early spring paddle with air temp of 9 degrees and water temp of 8 degrees celsius, I wore my 2/3mm wetsuit, some quick-drying pants, a nylon jacket, a pair of knee-length Sealskin water socks, neoprene water boots, and a hat. For safety I had my cellphone in a waterproof case, and wore a waist belt inflatable PFD and a strap for my glasses. In my dry bag I packed a change of clothes, lunch cooking set, 2L of extra water, and neoprene gloves in case it got colder than expected.

About 1 hour into the paddle, my parents called me to see what I’m up to. Upon learning about my plan for the day, they volunteered to pick up the kids from daycare instead. So I modified the plan slightly, and allowed myself extra time for lunch. Such flexibility is the greatest thing about solo paddling; I didn’t plan on paddling until the night before, I didn’t know I would be launching at 10:45am until I finished daycare drop off that morning, and I didn’t have to check with anyone for last minute plan adjustments.

The weather was cloudy with a dense cloud cover. Great for minimal UV exposure but I still put on some sunscreen.

View of Downtown Vancouver

After 1 hour of paddling, I got to Vanier Park. I crossed English Bay in the slow boating zone near Burrard Bridge.

Burrard Bridge from Vanier Park

During the powerful November 15, 2021 storm, many beloved sites that we’ve visited recently were affected. Othello Tunnels is indefinitely closed. Cultus Lake is littered with debris. And a massive barge has drifted and lodged itself on English Bay Beach, where it has been sitting and waiting for deconstruction.

The English Bay Barge.

I took a breather on English Bay Beach and answered some work messages, then pushed on towards Stanley Park.

English Bay Beach
Second Beach at Stanley Park
Stanley Park

Just before 1pm, I arrived at the Third Beach in Stanley Park.

Landed at Third Beach

Lunch was dehydrated Pork Pad Thai by Alpine Aire. It was mildly spicy and quite flavourful. I cleaned up all 660 calories quite easily.

Lunch at Third Beach

To rehydrate a hot meal, it took about 10 minutes to set up the stove and boil the water, 12 minutes to rehydrate the contents, a few minutes for it to cool down enough to eat, and 15-20 minutes to finish the meal. Another 5 minutes to clean up. All told, the lunch break took about 1 hour. Note to self: to save on time, opt for a packed lunch instead.

Just before 2pm, I relaunched from Third Beach and retraced my route back.

Relaunched

By the time I reached Jericho Beach, a westerly head wind kicked up. Thankfully I was in the last few hundred meters, so I just powered through it.

At 3:45pm, I arrived back on Locarno Beach, well ahead of schedule. Had it not been for the head wind, I may have considered going a bit further but I was thankful I didn’t. Later that night, I realized my muscles were much more fatigued than I expected!

Landed back on Locarno Beach

Overall, this was a fantastic workout paddle route. Every 2 kilometers or so, there’s a point of interest and option to pull out for a break or even hail a ride if you have to call it quits: Jericho, Kits Beach, Vanier Park, English Bay Beach, Second and Third Beaches. If I link this up with Locarno to Wreck Beach, this would be a 30km paddle route right in the city. I believe on a well chosen day in the summer, when I don’t have to wear the restrictive wetsuit, I might be able to take on this challenge.


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